“There’s an app for that”

It seems to me like the iPhone has an application for everything.  From a Halloween costume generator app to an app that tells you how to read an MRI, Apple has thought of it all.  MLB and Apple have teamed up to create MLB at Bat– an iPhone and iPod Touch app for baseball enthusiasts.  I haven’t personally jumped on the iPhone or Blackberry bandwagon, but this new app is making the iPhone that much harder to resist.

The app gives inning-by-inning score updates for games in progress.  It also has details about who is pitching, pitch-by-pitch updates, who is fielding, who is batting and who is on base.  There is an audio option and a list of short summaries of innings and plays where you can search all plays or narrow your search to scoring plays.  And, if that’s not enough for you, you can watch game highlights too!  You can have America’s favorite pastime literally at your fingertips for only $9.99.

Postseason.TV is another invention for the baseball fanatic.  If you prefer to watch games online, then this is for you.  You can have up to 4 different views of the game on your computer screen at once.  8 different camera angles allow you to watch the game from every seat in the ball park.  A live Twitter feed allows fans to tweet about a double play while the ball is on its way to the second out.  The combination of Postseason.TV, MLB at Bat and social media should hit the MLB fan base out of the park.

Now there’s simply no excuse for missing a pitch since you can watch the game on TV, online, get updates on your iPhone and iPod and listen to it on the radio all at once!

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From clipboards to keyboards

Say goodbye to the stereotypical sports recruiters and their attempt to blend in with the crowd.  You know, those guys wearing suits and sunglasses, sitting stiff and uncomfortably on high school gymnasium bleachers gripping a clip board to record how many points you score.  And don’t forget about those sitting in their designated front row seats two inches behind the back stop shuffling their stats sheets and holding a speed gun to clock the velocity of your pitch.  Aren’t you gonna miss ‘em?

So where are they going?  College scouts are headed online to find high school star athletes from the comfort of their own homes.  Recruitlook.com is the social networking site where high school athletes and college coaches connect.

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The athlete posts a profile with a “personal bio, stats, game film, pictures, schedules, standardized test scores and goals”.  The college scout creates a profile as well that includes “contact information, information about the program, potential recruits, future recruiting stops and their schedule”.  Athletes, fans, high school coaches, college coaches and club teams can join.  These online profiles allow coaches to keep in touch with prospective recruits, have a two way flow of up to date information, and market the team to the athlete and the athlete to the team.

Your basic Facebook and Twitter have also had a large impact on college sports.  At a national conference for college sports earlier this year, Kathleen Hessert (the main focus of a recent post Who tweets your Twitter?) from Sports Media Challenge advised coaches on the use of social media in college sports and the trend grew from there.

With the help of social media, recruiters will become more prepared and informed about potential recruits.  Their faces won’t disappear completely from the crowd, but they will have more prominence online in the coming years.

Community coaching

This past summer I was a stadium and community relations intern for the North Shore Navigators.  The Navs are one of twelve teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL).  They play their home games at Frasier Field in Lynn, Massachusetts and ended the season in third place in the Eastern Division with a 20-21 record.

The NECBL used to include the Torrington Twisters from Connecticut, but as the General Manager and owners moved to Massachusetts, they took the team with them.  The organization was relocated to New Bedford, MA for the 2009 season.  The Twisters have played in Torrington since 1997 so the town of Torrington and Twisters fans weren’t too happy about the move.

Torrington is taking a stand in hopes of getting their Twisters back.  The town is implementing social media as a way to connect with and incorporate fans while generating revenue.  Our Baseball Haven (OBH) is a new development in social media for collegiate baseball teams.  Their mission statement, “a team built on innovation, ruled by majority”, sounds eerily familiar.  It is the basis behind social media and web 2.0 today!  Giving power to the people, encouraging the Groundswell, inviting feedback and creating transparency in a company or organization is what OBH and social media are all about.

A one hundred dollar membership includes season tickets and voting rights to major off-field decisions such as the team name, logo and uniform.  Our Baseball Haven has around 400 members right now and is hoping to reach the 900 mark which would lead to a budget of 90,000 dollars.  The membership-based budget will allow for ticket sales revenue, collected at the gate, to be given back to the community and a number of non-profit organizations and charities.  The website enables viewers to follow OBH on its blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.  It also offers a series of videos up to a minute in length that explain each aspect of the OBH experience.

The original plan was to purchase a team from the NECBL to move back to Torrington.  Those plans fell through after a battle of bidding between Our Baseball Haven and another organization that ultimately placed a higher bid for the team.  Not to fear though, Our Baseball Haven is here.  They looked into taking over a team from the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL) and are very close to bringing the Peekskill, New York Robins to Torrington.

Our Baseball Haven is community based in two ways: the community becomes part General Manager in that they vote on key decisions for the team, and the team sponsored by OBH will be philanthropic in giving back to their community and fans.  In a sport where a tied ballgame isn’t an option, OBH is a win-win situation.

Social media places in 2010 Olympics

Olympic media coverage

The 2010 winter Olympic Games in Vancouver are just around the corner!  Who do you turn to for Olympic coverage of the gold, silver and bronze?  In the past, I have always looked to the major networks, NBC, CBS and ABC for scores, times and new world records because I know that they have accurate and up to date information.  Interviews between network reporters and Olympic athletes are an important part in Olympic media coverage, but have remained professional, hence somewhat static in the past.  What’s a better way to get the inside-scoop and behind-the-scenes info?  …social media.

USA women’s hockey player and three time Olympian Angela Ruggiero demonstrates her extensive use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, website, blog, podcasts and YouTube via her Flip camera) in this video clip:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned social media in the past, trying to uphold exclusive contracts with broadcasters.  The rules used to explicitly state that only “accredited” media could cover the games.  However, we all know there’s no one way to avoid or control social media these days- it’s everywhere.  The IOC has no choice but to welcome citizen journalism and competition, therefore the committee has loosened its firm grip on the media.

Social media is about the athletes emotionally connecting with fans and viewers after a win or loss.  It’s about giving the viewer an inside look to an elite world of super athletes.  However, it also includes citizen journalists blogging about Olympic fever: the culture that captivates the world once every two years.

Vancouver students have been asked to cover Olympic and Paralympic Games using social media.  Before twelve young social media experts are chosen, the contestants are asked to submit blogs, podcasts and websites by November 13 for review.

The IOC is slowly opening its doors to social media- a change of Olympic proportion that will yield a great variety of media coverage.

Back to the basics: baseball blogging

Who says everyone has to be on Twitter and Facebook?  Not all social media work for all companies and organizations; sometimes sticking with a more traditional blog works best.  WEEI Sports Radio Network’s website has live score updates, audio and video libraries, a shortcut to Boston teams, game schedules and 15 blogs.

One blog in particular, called This Just In, is similar to Twitter in that it is updated multiple times throughout the day.  There were 14 abbreviated posts just today.  The posts are indeed short, but not limited to 140 characters like Twitter updates.  The blog frequently links to other blogs within the website for extended information, including Full Count (a Red Sox blog), It Is What It Is (a Patriots blog), Green Street (a Celtics blog), and Big Bad Blog (a Bruins blog) to name a few, where the reader can find the rest of the story.

http://onthesideline.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/curt-schilling-3.jpg

Despite Red Sox misfortune this past weekend, lets talk about retired Red Sox right handed pitcher Curt Schilling.  He also has a blog on the WEEI website entitled 38 Pitches, after his number and position.  He started the blog on March 7, 2007 with a post called Throwing Out the First Pitch that received 170 comments and has been posting regularly ever since.

Bloody sock Schilling admits that this endeavor is experimental in nature as he talks about everything from his family to fans to the players and the game.  He confesses something I’ve never heard a professional athlete say before: that he is human and he makes mistakes.  He wants to use this blog to avoid mixed messages and rumors, rightfully inform fans, and also to connect with baseball enthusiasts.

Twidentity theft

With upwards of 23 million twitter accounts and entertainers and athletes hiring people to tweet for them, who’s to say what’s real and what’s fake?  Sports enthusiasts listen up because sportsin140.com has the list you’re looking for.

I will be the first to admit that I have been fooled by Twitter.  In my first post, Social media in the big leagues, I rambled off six Boston Red Sox players who I follow on Twitter.  As it turns out, David Ortiz is the only Sox player with a real, confirmed Twitter account; the rest are impostors!

So how does sportsin140.com know who is real and who is fake?  There is a four-step process that includes contacting the athlete and asking for verification, contacting their team or organization, verifying a Twitter name via the athlete’s personal website, and/or checking if other authentic accounts confirm the account under investigation.

twitter jail

No, you won’t go to jail for creating a fake Twitter account.  However your account may be suspended, removed or you may be forced to change your Twitter name so your followers know you’re a phony.  Shaquille O’Neal’s Twitter name is The_Real_Shaq after a fan used his name to create an account and gain followers who simply didn’t know any better.  The impostor had Shaq’s character down to a science and updated the Twitter account with tweets in O’Neal’s tone and style.

What is Twitter doing to stop fake accounts?  “Parody accounts” are allowed on Twitter.  However, this imposturous account must show, in an obvious manner, that it is fake.  St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa tried to file a law suit against Twitter saying that a fake account in his name damaged his social well-being.  Since the account clearly stated that it was a parody, the suit was dropped.  A sneaky attempt at tricking followers into believing you are the real deal, however, will lead to removal of the account.  A good way to make your account credible is to verify and link to your Twitter name through your website.

So beware Twitter users, there might be someone out there tweeting in your name!

Twitter tantrum

ATwitter Fights we’ve seen, the social media micro-blog Twitter is a great way to stay connected with friends, family and colleagues.  Twitter also unites sports players with their fans all over the world.  Followers feel engaged in their idols’ lives, knowing how many reps they’re doing at their 5 am workouts, or what they’re eating for dinner.  Twitter also connects players from various teams, but not always in the nicest way.

Trash talk is commonplace during any sporting event, but what happens when that one on one confrontation goes online?  A: the person-to-person interaction becomes person-to-multi-person, B: everybody can see it, and C: fans take a side and fight back.

This past summer, there was a Twitter fight (perhaps tantrum is a better word to describe it) between San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman and Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.  Johnson tweeted that Merriman should watch his back during the December 20th match-up between the Chargers and Bengals.  Merriman responded via Twitter and then posted a video of his somewhat threatening comeback.

Johnson and Merriman gave us a lesson in free speech.  Time and place are restrictions on the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause.  We’ve seen time and place restrictions set for social media on national and collegiate levels in the NFL and Southeastern Conference for both players and fans, but how about content constraint?  The first Amendment cannot always restrict content of speech.  The tweets this summer between Merriman and Johnson are an example of freedom of speech at its finest via the social media tool Twitter.

Merriman discusses his response to Johnson in the Ustream video posted below    (minute 3 – minute 5):

 

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Who tweets your Twitter?

Are you too busy to type a 140 character Twitter update about your day?  Some sports stars are.  What do these athletes do?  Well, they hire someone to tweet for them.

While certain athletes such as tennis tweeter Serena Williams and Cincinnati Bengals’ Chad Johnson find time to update, other athletes, such as Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins, have people to tweet for them.

Sports Media Challenge president Kathleen Hessert offers social media advice to those of us tweeting on our own as well as athletes, coaches, entertainment stars and public relations personnel using Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Flickr and blogs.  Specifically with the micro-blog Twitter, Hessert says to divide updates into three categories including professional tweets, personal tweets and miscellaneous tweets to generate a large following.  Hessert also offers interview, speech and crisis management advice, as well as listing the dos and don’ts when it comes to dealing with those pesky reporters.

No matter how well an athlete does in their sport, fans are still interested in what goes on behind the scenes and will believe most of what they hear.  Therefore it is important to protect your reputation and keep scandalous gossip to a minimum.  Buzz Manager is an interesting tool offered on the Sports Media Challenge website which focuses on stopping internet rumors.  It monitors internet talk and gives you a detailed account of the good, the bad and the ugly of what is being said about you or your brand out there in the World Wide Web.  Buzz Manager does for people what Technorati, the blogosphere monitor, does for blogs.

If you don’t happen to have a famous athlete’s salary and can’t hire somebody to tweet your Twitter account, check out Sports Media Challenge for advice on how to enhance and protect your reputation when using social media.

No glassware, alcohol, umbrellas or social media allowed in stadium

Major league teams have rules regarding the use of social media, but how about college sports?  Some college teams are adopting the NFL’s strict guidelines for social media use.  The Southeastern Conference recently tried to eliminate the use of social media for all fans filling the various stadiums.  However, as soon as the SEC made their decision, they amended it.  The 12 schools in the conference include the University of Alabama, Auburn University, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, the University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University, the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, the University of Arkansas and the University of South Carolina.

The SEC has multi-billion dollar contracts with CBS and ESPN and they didn’t want any form of media coverage competition from citizen journalists.  Social media such as Twitter, TwitPic, Facebook and YouTube turn the average Joe sports fan into a citizen journalist therefore these forms of social media were originally banned.

Once the SEC realized that fans are more likely to watch games on their flat screen, high definition television sets as opposed to streaming video clips from cell phones, they lightened up on the rules.  YouTube clips are still not allowed, but Facebook and Twitter updates are acceptable.

YouTube is of greater danger to CBS and ESPN but it is much easier to monitor and police than Facebook or twitter.  The computer’s IP address is a finger print that links posted videos clips to a personal computer.  If anyone attempts to post video clips of and SEC game on YouTube, their post can be traced.

How many times have you logged onto Facebook and seen game updates from your favorite team?  How many times have you searched winning game clips from your favorite team on YouTube?  YouTube is the first place I look if JMU makes ESPN’s top ten plays.  What do you think about banning the use of social media at college sports events?

Social media in the big leagues

TwitterSocial media is a fresh idea that many corporations are quick to adopt.  How has the sports industry treated this new phenomenon?  Major league sports have been slow out of the box on adopting social media, but they’re on their way.  The Entertainment Sports Programming Network, otherwise known as ESPN, has opened its doors to social networking.  Their open door policy however does not denote absolute tweeting or facebooking freedom.  Certain restrictions apply during game time whether on the court, field, diamond or ice.  Let’s take a look at how organizations such as the NFL, NBA and MLB are taking advantage of social media.

NFL

The National Football League has set very strict guidelines applying to players, their representatives, coaches, referees and other employees for the micro blog Twitter and social media network Facebook.  The use of social media is not at all tolerated for game officials, and Twitter and Facebook updates are not allowed during game time.  In fact, this rule is in effect 90 minutes before kick off and continues until post-game interviews are finished.  The immediacy of Twitter has interfered with organization’s play-by-play commentary and the only exception to this zero-tolerance game time policy includes quarterly score updates with limited, suspended information.  The NFL will regulate certified news media, but will have a tough time controlling the tweets of every single fan in the stadium during game time.

Photo by David Sherman
Shaq chatting on the bench

NBA

The National Basketball Association also plans on setting guidelines for social media use, but they will not be as strict as the NFL rules.  The NBA will allow tweets and social media updates, just not during game time.  They do not have a specific start or end time for tweeting like the NFL; their loose guidelines will be in place so players aren’t tweeting on the bench, e-mailing in the locker room or recording a Youtube video on the bus to an away game.

MLB

A strict set of Twitter guidelines for Major League Baseball has not been enforced, perhaps because not many MLB players are tweeting.  I personally follow Red Sox players David Ortiz, Jonathan Pabelbon, Jason Varitek, Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, the New England Sports Network (NESN) and Jerry Remy (the president of Red Sox Nation), just to keep up with my favorite team while I’m miles away in Virginia.  NESN and Remy update several times daily, but the players themselves are not avid tweeters.

Online interaction and social media are taking over our lives.  Major league sports teams have different rules for their players using Twitter and Facebook.  Some organizations are strict in enforcing their guidelines because they are skeptical of the new media while others embrace social media and use it as a way to connect with their millions of fans.